Xiphias gladius

Market Name(s): Swordfish

Contact Purchasing
  • Primary Source: DOMESTIC: Hawaii, California, Oregon, Massachusetts, and Florida. IMPORTED: Taiwan, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Trinidad, Chile, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Guam.
  • Season: Year-round availability, but supplies normally heaviest in early fall
  • Primary Fishing Method: Longline, gillnet

Size Range:

Max Size: 1200 lbs

Avg. Size: 100-200 lbs

Product forms:

FRESH: Bullets, loins, steaks (skin-on and skin-off, bloodline in or bloodline out).

FROZEN: Loins, steaks (skin-on and skin-off, bloodline in or bloodline out).

Storage & Handling

Frozen loins should be wrapped in poly bags and stored at -5 to -15°F. Fresh fish that is well iced can be held up to three weeks.

Cooking Suggestions

With a thick, meaty texture and full flavor, swordfish can be served simply or with fresh herbs, marinades or salsas. Perfect for high-heat cooking methods such as grilling and broiling, swordfish can also be baked with excellent results. The key is cooking swordfish quickly, so it retains its moisture and doesn’t dry out. Removing it from the heat a little early is a good idea, as the sword will continue to cook for a few more minutes on its own.

Selling Points

  • A firm-textured fish that appeals to almost any appetite.
  • Readily available year-round, but best buys on fresh are in the early fall.
  • Frozen “clipper” swordfish is excellent quality and offers more stable pricing.

The Pacific Advantage

  • Highly trained purchasing department with international vendor base, including on site buyers at the Honolulu auction
  • Plants up and down the West Coast provide best access to local swordfish catch
  • A professional fillet team that utilizes state-of-the-art handling and custom portioning techniques
  • Advanced training in the handling of histamine-producing species
  • High-volume distribution network covers an extensive geographic area, resulting in volume purchasing advantage, quick turnover and consistent supply of product
  • Strict quality control and receiving policies
  • Advanced H.A.C.C.P. program with full-time inspection exceeds industry standards


Originally fished by harpoon, swordfish are now caught mostly by longline and gillnet, often on the high seas hundreds of miles from land. The firm, juicy white meat of swordfish is a favorite of chefs in the U.S., the world’s largest single market for swordfish. A big, voracious predator, swordfish can exceed 1,000 pounds.

Although the U.S. is a major market for swordfish, consuming an estimated 15,000 tons a year, American fishermen catch just 5% of the annual worldwide swordfish catch.

Almost 100,000 tons of swordfish are caught each year. Japan is the world’s leading producer, catching more than 20,000 tons a year, followed by Taiwan.

Most of the swordfish caught by U.S. fishermen is landed in California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Florida. Swordfish landed on the East Coast average less than 100 pounds apiece, substantially smaller than the sword landed on the West Coast and Hawaii.

The term “clipper” sword refers to swordfish that are processed by high-seas longliners that catch and freeze sashimi-quality fish.

As swordfish migrate across large areas of the ocean, landings from some areas are highly seasonal, especially in the more temperate waters at the extremes of the animal’s migratory range. In California, for example, swordfish are only landed in significant quantities from October to January. Off the Northeast U.S., swordfish are landed from July to October. However, in warmer waters, such as off Hawaii, swordfish are landed year-round.

While swordfish landings vary depending upon the time of year, they also fluctuate depending upon the cycle of the moon. Since swordfish are harder to catch when the moon is bright (making the lightsticks fishermen attach to their longlines less effective), most swordfish boats will offload their catch when the moon is full, temporarily glutting the fresh market. As a result, the best buys on fresh swordfish are usually during the full moon.

Although most swordfish are landed in warmer water, Canadian fishermen from Nova Scotia land more than 1,000 tons of sword each summer as the big fish migrate along the edges of the Gulf Stream feeding on mackerel.

Fresh swordfish “bullets” are landed headed and gutted, with their tail on and fins off. Bullets larger than 100 pounds are called “markers,” 50 to 99 pounds are called “mediums,” and 25 to 49 pounds are called “pups.”

October is normally a good time of year to promote swordfish as fresh landings from California and the Northeast peak, driving prices lower.

In El Nino years, when waters are warmer than normal off the West Coast, swordfish may be landed as far north as Oregon and Washington.